AMN Reviews: Various Artists – The Old Alchemist (2017; Eighth Tower Records)

If nothing else, the current end-of-the-world pandemic crisis has facilitated digging through recordings that have been sitting on the shelf (or in this case, the SSD) unlistened. Case in point, I’ve had a copy of The Old Alchemist for over two years and first put it on a couple of days ago. If nothing else, it goes to show that there is a virtually unlimited amount of music being made – so much that excellent material can easily get buried.

This compilation features a cadre of dark ambient artists that have been discussed in the pages before: New Risen Throne, Monocube, Xerxes The Dark, Alphaxone, Sonologyst, and Aseptic Void. They are joined by others that are new to these ears: Self Industry, SiJ, Urs Wild, Niculta, Sounddog65, Maaurge, and Peri Esvultras. The output is over 90 minutes of haunting drones with electroacoustic manipulations. High points include the relentlessly avant and jarring offering of Sonologyst on Primeval Science, as well as Niculta’s Tundra, which sounds oddly like whale-song. But there are no weak tracks on The Old Alchemist, and each artist provides a different take on this expanding genre.

Don’t be like me – grab this one and put it on. You will have no regrets.

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